If you are expecting the Orioles brass to try and manage or downplay the high expectations for their top pitching prospects, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, don't.
Simply put, the Orioles have two of baseball's best young pitchers in that duo and everyone knows it. When Baseball America releases its next list of the sport's top 100 prospects in February, they could rank among the top 20-25 in the game and Bundy could be No. 1, as he was in the publication's 2012 mid-season listing.
Even though Bundy and Gausman pitched a combined total of just 127 2/3 innings last season, they are both already knocking on the door to the major league rotation.
Rather that downplay the prospect of one or both pitching in the big leagues in 2013, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette freely admits that is exactly what may happen.
"I believe both of them have the skill and ability to contribute to the big league team next year," Duquette said. "They are on a good track. They both got to Double-A this year, and even though it was for a limited time, they both did well there.
"They have the talent. They have serious talent. They have the talent and skills to be first division major league starting pitchers. Both of them. They are going to be good, both of them."
Is there even the chance that one or both of the pitchers could be in the opening day rotation next year?
"That is a question for another day," Duquette said.
Bundy, of course, has already been to the majors and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in two September bullpen outings. In the regular season, he went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA over 23 starts at three minor league levels, ending at Double-A. Over 103 2/3 innings, Bundy walked 28, fanned 119 and allowed an average against of just .186. In a playoff game for Bowie, the right-hander, who turned 20 on Nov. 15, gave up just one run and six hits with a walk and seven strikeouts over six innings.
Gausman, who turns 22 in January, went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA over five starts between short-season, Single-A Aberdeen and Single-A Frederick. He then pitched three shutout innings with five strikeouts in a playoff start for Double-A Bowie. Over a combined 18 innings, he walked one and fanned 18.
Bundy was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 draft and Gausman was No. 4 overall last June. It sure doesn't seem it will take this pair four years to make an impact with the Orioles.
"They are on the horizon," Duquette said. "We like to see players succeed at Double-A before we consider them for the big leagues. Obviously, Bundy got a look this year when we needed some support for our bullpen. He came up and did well.
"Gausman went to the instructional league and pitched well after he pitched well for Bowie in the Eastern League playoffs. He has a very good changeup and good sinking fastball. Nice delivery and excellent control."
Duquette said Gausman could pitch in the majors this year despite his very limited number of innings from last season.
"He's a very accomplished pitcher in terms of his skill level," he said.
Even more Bundy and Gausman: Click here to read the story published here earlier with Baseball America's Matt Forman. He produced the Orioles top 10 prospects list this year for Baseball America, ranking Bundy No. 1 and Gausman No. 2.